Monday, April 30, 2007

Kics Project Magnetic Drain Bolt Installed

Installed the Kics Project magnetic drain bolt today when I went for my third service. Pix of bolt installed. The red anodizing on black background sure looks Beng! Kinda reminds me of tits to fondle and play with :P

Used the supplied metal washer but not the organic washer. Will monitor for leaks in the next few days just in case. Pix below of stock steel bolt. The stock bolt incorporates a crushed copper washer.

I'm using Castrol SLX 0W-30 synthetic btw. What engine oil are you using?

Sunday, April 29, 2007


Know this is to be expected with frequent highway driving but boy does it hurt when it happens. Got this love bite while on the N/S Highway yesterday running up and down doing errands for my new place. Bite was bad enough that the paint came off. What a downer on an otherwise excellent day with Man Utd coming from behind to go 5 points clear at the top of the Premiership..
Will get this fixed soon along with a few other not as bad chips on the bumper and front lower skirting. Also got a few chips on the windscreen but I don't know of any windscreen repairer in Penang. Bummer!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Carbon Nismo FL2 Rear Spoiler - Update & More Carbon Fetish

Despite hugging the spoiler to sleep I couldn't get over the slight flaws. Not really visible to the untrained eye but the close up pix with flash below shows the flaws. Tell me where.
Bro D coming to collect the spoiler tomorrow for refinishing. Keeping my fingers crossed.

Oh, and here are my carbon number plates. The stock chromed framed item got too iritating to look at after nearly a year. I just can't understand the Jap's infatuation with chrome. My wifey's Chevie Optra has about 20% the amount of chrome an N16 has.

Now this is what I call a flawless finish. Sorry I can't show more. Installing said number plates and spoiler in due time. Patience is virtue!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Carbon Nismo FL2 Rear Spoiler - Preview Part 3

Took delivery of the finished spoiler just a while ago. Was supposed to install yesterday but it rained Garfields and Odies just when I was ready to go install. Planned to install after work today but guess what? It rained giraffes and hippos again. Big Bummer! Anyway here's the finished item. Don't need any weighing scale to tell me the carbon spoiler weighs less than half the stock polyurethane item. Hold the stock spoiler in your hands and you'll be surprised at how heavy it is. No kidding!
Closeup. Finished quality is only second best per my own personal standards. Quite a lot of pin holes present and the clearcoat is rather thin. Plan is to install and then leave for a couple weeks before sending to my professional painter for refinishing. More $$ here. Sigh!
Bottom surface
Hope to install in the next couple of days. Dear God, pls give me some decent sunshine between 6pm and 7pm.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Carbon Nismo FL2 Rear Spoiler - Preview Part 2

Test fitted the spoiler today. Pix below.

How does it look? Beng or fierce? Overall still not too impressed with surface finish quality. Still lotsa work to be done especially sanding and clearcoating. Close up.

Even closer up

Tell me what you think..

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Carbon Nismo FL2 Rear Spoiler - Preview

The spoiler's off the mould. Now doing some light finishing. Early pixs from my Bro below. Have been too busy to follow up on the status or to help in the moulding work like in my SP days. Sigh..

Tomorrow will test fit. If all goes well then the spoiler will be sent for finishing to my standards else it'll be to make another one..

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Nismo S-Tune Decal Kit

Finally took some time to apply the "Nismo S-Tune" decal kit today. Process took me bout half an hour and I also screwed up one "S-Tune" decal during the positioning process. The decals stick way too easily. Dang! Pixs below
The decal set only comes with three "S-Tune" decals so having screwed one means I don't have any left for the rear of the car. This means I'll have to purchase another set. Expensive mistake! Bummer me! Having said that I'm still undecided whether the decals look good on the Slowtra or just plain ricey? At the rate mods are happening I might need a "R-Tune" decal set soon. Haha! Also worried bout inviting unwarranted drag challenges on the roads by young cikus with too much imagination. Comments pls...

Alutec Lightweight Crank Pulley - Preview

As mentioned in the Alutec strut bar article here are the first pictures of my crank pulley. Pix below of box. Sticker price on the box is in Sing dollars and not Malaysian Ringgit. Sorry. I got a pretty decent discount having also bought the strut bar.
Top surface. Despite all the CNC and material trickery Alutec can't center the wording properly on the crank pulley. Bummer! The Alutec crank pulley is the same diameter as stock crank pulley so no underdriving s**t! If you're running any semblance of a half decent ICE system stay far far away from underdrive crank pulleys. Alutec uses 7075 aluminium alloy material which is stronger than 6061 alloy used by the likes of Unorthodox Racing and majority of performance pulley manufacturers. Even the adjustable cam pulleys on the SP were 6061 material only. This along with the hard anodizing will greatly reduce wear on the pulley's surface in the long run.

Bottom surface. Crank pulley measured 853 grammes on my Bro's digital weighing scale. Have not weighted the stock crank pulley but would expect it to weigh 2-3 times more.

Like the stock crank pulley the Alutec version has nicely machined grooves for the stock belting.
Bro Uncle Fooyc got so excited he promptly got himself one. SMS from him late last night "Cb! Dem nice. I'm going to hug it to sleep!" Wahahahaha! Acceleration in the lower gears should improve with the crank pulley fitted. Hopefully max power output too! Uncle Foo will be installing first and also doing a dyno. I'll install when I can find some time off work and renovating my house. Stay tuned for a follow up.


Was surfing around trying to get the best deal on titanium fasteners for the new Alutec strut bar when I decided to email Pro-Bolt to send me their 2006-2007 catalogue. Said catalogue dutifully arrived about a week later. Feast your eyes.
For a detailed rundown of the various available types of lightweight performance fasteners for automotive use pls visit The SP Files. Will be ordering some fasteners from Pro-Bolt when funds become available. This should hopefully help to reduce the Slowtra's porky weight. NO, I'm not ditching my subwoofer :P

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Round ?: Cabling

Despite what some ICE enthusiast will tell you, I'm a firm believer that cables play a very important role in how decent your system will sound. This believe goes back to when I was still a student in the UK. Back then the local hi-fi shop in Conventry where I bought my first proper 2-channel hi-fi system from loaned me a complete set of Audioquest cables from the low to the highest end. Me and my cousin tried blind auditioning and both of us after a while could detect the differences with the different cables used. No joke!

With the major build going on I wasn't going to stinge on my cables. First I had to decide on a decent power cable to replace the caplang 4 AWG I was using. Adding an additional amp means that I had to step up a gauge as the 4 AWG would barely suffice. Mind you max power from both my amps at this point would be more than 1 kilowatt! The BCAE web page has a fab tool to calculate your power cable requirements. Just key in the max power from your amps and the length of power cabling to be used and the tool will inform you if the gauge you are planning to use is suffice. Just look for No.16 "Wire" in the Directory section. I settled for 2 AWG sizing. Now unfortunately getting big gauge (2 to 0 AWG) branded power cable is very difficult and expensive proposition in our dear country. Luckily I had assistance from Bro Fooyc. Soon some decent Phoenix Gold 2 AWG power cables were delivered to my doorstep. Pix below of the Phoenix Gold power cable. I ordered about 16 feet. Damage was more than 500 smackers!
The Phoenix Gold power cable nicely laid out and ready to be connected to fuse holder in engine bay.
Also ordered a Phoenix Gold ZWF500 fuse holder and 150amp ANL type fuse. Again fuses with big power ratings are unbelievably expensive. Damage was about the same as the power cable. 1K and I haven't even started on my audio cables. Pix of the fuse can be found in my "The Carbon Dream Continues" article.

With the power cabling requirements taken care of I set about looking for a decent subwoofer interconnect. The Bremen HU's sub-out features only one RCA connector and likewise the Steg K2.02 when connected up in bridged-mono mode. This save some money as I only need to buy one subwoofer interconnect instead of a pair. Being an Audioquest audiophile cable user and fan I settled on the Audioquest Sub-1 subwoofer interconnect. The Sub-1 is second from the top in Audioquest's range of subwoofer interconnects the highest end being the Sub-3 which incorporates a DBS battery pack! You don't wanna know how much the Sub-3 costs. Details of the Sub-1 interconnect can be found in Audioquest's web page. Pix below of the Audioquest Sub-1. RCA connectors are silver. Damage came up to 580 bucks for a 4.5m cable. Wallet getting lighter by the minute! For some apparent reason the braided sleeve reminds me of the rice cooker's power cable.
For subwoofer speaker cable I decided to try something different. Wanted something thicker gauge due to the big power being pushed out from the K2.02 amp. Settled on Van den Hul's THE WIND Mk II HYBRID speaker cable. Talk bout a long name. Try saying the name real fast 10 times :P The WIND Mk II HYBRID consists of a total of 173 single non insulated strands in 5 different layers with a total cross-section area of 4.67 mm² equalling AWG 10.5. AWG 10 is about the max diameter that will fit in the K2.02's speaker cable terminals. More details in VDH's web page. Three metres of a single cable run (I'll be using a 1.5m pair) cost me 357 smackers. No joke. I decided to use a Neutrik Speakon NL4FC cable connector at the sub-box end for easy removal and reinstallation of the speaker cable. Looks trick too but shame everything is hidden up after installation. Pix below of the Neutrik Speakon connector's associated parts before assembly and termination.
Pix below of the VDH THE WIND Mk II HYBRID speaker cable connected to the subwoofer box via Neutrik Speakon cable connector.
View from the side. The Audioquest Sub-1 subwoofer interconnect can also be seen snaking into the amp rack.
The VDH WIND Mk II HYBRID speaker cable looks really cheap being grey in colour till you touch it. Somehow the Hulliflex sleeve feels different from ordinary plastic or PVC sleeving. Difficult to put in words. Touch it and you'll know what I mean.

Was going to upgrade the Supra Dual interconnects I was using but then my Bro Anthony Lim set me up on a deal I couldn't refuse. Manage to get a 4.5m set of Audioquest Sidewinder interconnects at cheaper than dealer price. Per SMS from Anthony "price is so silly, you can buy me lunch and dinner when we next meet". Will do Bro! Price is too cheap and sensitive for me to mention in this blog. Sorry... Pix below of the Sidewinder.
Sidewinders connected to the Steg Qmos II amp. The Steg K2.02 has not been installed at this point hence the cables meant for it are hanging about.

Anthony also set me up on some Audioquest SR (Shielded Round Series)-15/4 speaker cables. This is 2 step up the range compared with the FLX (Flexible Series) -15/2 speaker cables I was using. Pix below of the SR-15/4 nicely terminated by Uncle.
The SR-15/4 is bi-wire ready and features 4 separate 15AWG cables within it's blue coloured outer sleeve. Since I won't be bi-wiring two each of the four 15AWG cables are soldered together to make a pair of 12AWG cable. Neat eh? The Audioquest SR-15/4 speaker cables ready to be connected to the Focal K2P's crossover. The FLX-15/2 cable (in white sleeve) will remain on the crossover to speaker connection as the SR-15/4 is too big and bulky for efficient routing through tight confined spaces. The SR-15/4 will be used only from the amp to the crossover.
Pix below of megabucks cabling running beneath the rear seat. Guess the term "sitting on a pot of gold" applies to the rear passengers :) Everything is neatly routed and secured in place via zip ties.
Another pix.
So how does it all sound? I'll have to admit there were too many upgrades to my system at this point to give a decent comparison with the previous cabling setup. I did not notice any quirky sound quality traits with these cables so this is a decent start. Highs are highs without being grainy. The lows are deep and punchy. Having said this I would recommend any home audio or ICE enthusiasts to not spend too much on your cables. No point spending 5K on cables if your entire system only cost 10K. A good reference would be to spend bout 10% of the total cost of your ICE/Home Audio setup on cables. Having said that I have some Audioquest Diamondback interconnect on order to complement my TRU Technology Billet amp. Poison runs deep!

Round 4: Major Build Part1 - Steg K Competition Series K2.02 Amplifier, Amp Rack and Subwoofer Box

Having decided on another amp to power the Focal 27KX sub I set about doing research on getting the best amp with the available budget I had. I was initially keen to get another Steg QmosII amp to complement the 105.4x that I was going to use. However news of Audio Active's (The Malaysian distributor for Steg) launch of the latest Steg K Competition series amp changed by mind. The K Competition series is very competitively priced against the QmosII and best of all had decent damping factor (1000) compared to the QmosII series (>500) and also very very competitive power output. Most sub playing enthusiast will tell you that high damping factor is a very good thing to have as far as driving subs are concerned. There has been some debates on the K Competition series's the sound quality but hey I'm only using it to drive the sub. And being unable to audition and do comparisons there's only so much I'm willing to pay. Welcome to the wonderful world of ICE in Penang where you can spend big bucks without getting a chance to decide if the sound quality balance is right for your ears in the first place.

I finally settled on the K2.02 2 channel amp as it was a tad cheaper than it's closest equivalent the QmosII QM 220.2X. The K2.02 makes up to 615watts into 4 ohms when bridged to mono mode. More tech details in Steg's K Competition Series amplifier web page. Serious stuff but hey the Focal 27KX sub is a serious subwoofer :) The amp cost me 2.3K smackers damage by the way. Pix below of my K2.02 amp upon unpacking from box. The black satin finish looks cool but smudges easily. For power hungry junkies there are bigger more power K Comp series amps in the range.

With the amp decision made I had to decide on my config. Settled for the QmosII 105.4x amp bridged into 2 channel and high passed to drive the Focal K2Ps while the K2.02 is bridged into mono mode and low passed to drive the Focal 27KX sub. The Bremen HU features a separate sub-out and high/low pass filters to make my life easy.

Now most people would just wire things up and live happily ever after but not me. With the total equipment and cabling cost approaching 15K at this point I just had to have an install that was aesthetically pleasing. More like IASCA World Class Actually! Blame it on this web page! I set about discussing with Uncle on how to have such a build and soon my car was parked at Uncle's. Turned out to be quite an adventure too!

The size of the amps and layout proved to be quite tricky for the amp rack as this also had to accommodate the subwoofer box. I settled for a 1.2 cubic ft box to ensure that my bass is nice and tight. Also with this size the box can be positioned side by side with the amp rack. Apart from looking world class my brief to Uncle was that I wanted max boot space and of course to retain my spare tyre. The Slowtra is a daily driver after all and not some show car :P Quite a challenge eh? Pix below of the amp rack being fabricated from MDF. Would've been nice to use Nomex honeycomb carbon but NO budget.

The little black box is the fan. With everything enclosed a fan is needed to ensure proper cooling air circulation so that things don't get too hot! And here's my beefy subwoofer box.

Pardon the picture quality. Only had time to visit Uncle's after work during week days and only had my Nokia 6630 phone then for picture taking duties. Things would be quite dark by then and the poor Nokia was maxed out in it's pix taking capabilities. And here's the picture of the pylons and part of the false floor platform already situated in the Slowtra's boot. The amp rack and sub-box would be located on top of the platform.
Picture below of the amp rack, sub box and false floor in place.

Everything would be covered up by this panel! Took quite a while to fabricate as the clearances had to be correct to clear the boot hinge. Panel will be wrapped in vinyl material for the oem look.

Finally after 2 weeks things looked much more presentable. The bottom of the rear deck where the stock speakers were previously located is covered up by another panel. I settled for an old school Rockford Fosgate AGU fused distribution box as this looked much more elegant than the latest riced up versions. The sub box has been wrapped in boot upholstery at this point. The funky looking holes are for the fan. The amp rack incorporates neon blue lighting while the mini compartment for fused distribution box makes do with LED blue lighting.

Uncle even fabricated a mini-rocker switch for me just in case I wanted to have the lighting turned off with the boot opened. Pix below of the switch in it's discreet location. Guess where this is?

Picture below of the spare tyre well's cover panel's bottom surface. The cover is also fabricated from MDF. To take out the spare tyre simply lift out this panel like the stock cover Really neat.

Things are nearing completion after bout 3 weeks. The various cables (interconnects, speaker cables & power cables) alone cost me more than 2K! Will cover the cabling in a separate article.

Fab work from Uncle David. Only problem is the usage of mild steel fasteners. Arrggggh! Had to personally make a couple trips to my fastener shop to purchase stainless steel items for Uncle. Amps are now in place and wired up.

The brackets at the side are meant to hold panels to cover up the exposed areas in the amp rack including the cabling. Told Uncle to remove brackets. Not going to cover up my megabuck cabling! Pix below of the front cover panel after wrapping in vinyl. The front cover panel is secured in place only by 2 screws. Simple to remove when maintenance work is required.

Pix of work completed and everything installed. Temporarily using thin perspex transparent panels where the amps and fuse box are. These are fastened to the front cover panel via self taping screws. Have on order thick acrylic panels but these take time to machine and will be fitted later. Super neat and classy looking IMHO.

Was ready to drive home at this point but then a Bro of mine by the name of Eric Lim aka Iceless had to let me audition his megabuck system using TRU Technology Billet Series amps. The amps sounded so good and out of this world that I just had to get one to replace my Steg Qmos II 105.4X. This meant I had to modify the amp rack a bit as the TRU amp has different dimensions compared to the Steg. Luckily the TRU amp isn't that much wider than the Steg and still able to sit in the 105.4X's original position. Doing the required mod meant everything had to be dismantled again. Bummer! Stay tuned for Round 5! :)

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Alutec Front Strut Bar

Chassis rigidity wise the N16 is actually pretty decent and IMHO loads stiffer than any Proton Wira/Satria/Putra/GTi chassis. With stock super softy shocks a strut bar would be pretty pointless as the chassis is plenty stiff to cope. Up the damping via shocks with stiffer valving and springs and this is when you will feel the chassis flex especially during turn-in to a corner with a sharp radius. Pls note this can only be felt when the car is really thrashed. Drive the Slowtra like an uncle car and you'll never need any bars.

With my Nismo S-Tune shocks fitted, I was researching a decent strut bar for quite a while. Originally wanted to import the Nismo B15 front strut bar from the States but the cost was proving to be very prohibitive. The Nismo bar looked just like any local market bar (example Hot Bits) but with different colours. While I might be a hardcore Nismo fan I'm not that stupid to pay nearly 1 grand for caplang quality bar with steel mounting plates. Furthermore the B15 is left hand drive and I'm not sure if the Nismo strut bar for the B15 will clear the RHD N16's air-conditioning piping. Googling and hot rod mags led me to a Taiwanese aftermarket strut bar manufacturer called Alutec International Co. Ltd. While the Taiwanese web page is crap, Alutec's distributor in S'pore Motorex and Indonesia had some pretty decent stuff with pictures to follow.

Turns out that Alutec is one of the few strut bar manufacturers that actually manufacture the entire strut bar from aluminium including the mounting bracket. This differs from most popular bars which use a mild steel mounting bracket. To make things more yummy Alutec uses 6061 & 7005 aluminium material imported from Alcoa in the USA. In case you're wondering what Alcoa is the SSR Type C wheels use SSF (Semi-Solid Forging) technology developed by said company. The mounting brackets are CNC machined and robotic welded. Alutec claims the N16's strut bar weighs around 1.5kg only. A little bird also told me Alutec oems for one of the largest and most popular Jap aftermaket shock absorber company. Anyway with some help from my bro Herbert in S'pore and calls to Motorex I soon had the strut bar sitting in my room. The bar cost me 160 SGD or more than RM360 depending on exchange rate and would probably cost more had I not also ordered a lightweight Alutec aluminium crank pulley (will cover in this blog soon once installed) from them. Sure it's expensive for a strut bar to most people but honestly I had the SP's strut bar mounts CNC machined a block of aluminium for more than double the cost of the entire Alutec strut bar so it's decently cheap to me. Pix below of the Alutec front strut bar.
I put the bar on a digital weighing scale and the weight came up to 1510 grammes. Friggin light for a strut bar. Closeup of the aluminium mounting bracket below. Lovely robotic welding and quality. Fasteners are still cheap plated mild steel. Was going to import some titanium bolts but the cost really put me off. 300 smackers for one set of bolts (2 M10 X 100 socket cap bolts and 2 M10 flanged nuts) . I kid you not!

Installation proved to be peanuts and took me and bro bout 10 mins. Pix of the bar installed. Compared to popular local market strut bars the Alutec bar looks big and fat eh?

With the bar installed I took the Slowtra for a spin. The difference can be felt immediately. Front of the car feels more rigid and steering response more precise. Corner turn-in also improved. Pleasantly surprised the bar made so much difference to the feel of the car and steering. Unfortunately I now had a resonating rattling sound at 1500rpm. Lots of time and sweat spent troubleshooting that. Turned out to be the air-conditioning piping. As you can see from pix below the air-cond piping's mounting bracket (with red box) is pretty darn near the strut bar.

Initially thought the rattling was coming from this due to contact with the strut bar mounting bracket. This was because the sound disappeared with the air-cond piping mount bracket unbolted from the strut tower. Luckily this proved not to be the case. Somehow the combination of a stiffer front chassis and the way the air-cond piping is mounted caused the air-cond piping to rattle against each other at a certain engine rev and frequency (1500rpm in my case). Some muscle to ensure the pipes have more clearance solved this and I can now happily bolt-back the air-cond piping mount to the strut tower. Turns out this is a pretty common problem for the N16 strut bar or not. I only discovered this caused I loosened the bracket when I mounted my strut bar and muscle it a bit out of the way to ensure no contact with the strut bar mount bracket. Bummer!

Pix below of another side angle shot of the Alutec front strut bar installed.

Badge of honour? :P Badge unfortunately starting to loosen in one corner no thanks to continuous exposure to engine bay heat.

With the Nismo shocks and strut bar now installed the Slowtra's handling and driving feel is now loads better. Feels like a totally different car and I'm contemplating renaming the Slowtra "Slutra". Hahaha! Still needs much more power though. Can't wait for some decent Whiteline or Nismo anti-roll bars and something called a Limited Slip Differential.